UAS, Coast Guard establish training and scholarship program for students

Coast Guard members recruit on the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau on Monday. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

By next fall, the first batch of University of Alaska Southeast undergraduates are expected to begin a first-of-its-kind scholarship program for Alaska.

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Students that are accepted to the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) become active-duty enlisted members of the Coast Guard, receive full salary and benefits and start a track to become fully commissioned officers upon graduation.

UAS and the Coast Guard on Monday signed an agreement, establishing the program. During the signing ceremony, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael McAllister said the partnership opens up an “exchange of knowledge” between the campus and the Coast Guard.

“It’s a great opportunity for the many, many Coast Guard men and women in Alaska, but particularly Southeast Alaska, to get engaged back in the classroom, whether they’re as students, as mentors, or even guest instructors from time to time,” McAllister said. “It’s an opportunity for students here at UAS to get out and learn about some of the things the Coast Guard does in terms of marine environmental protection, in terms of fisheries enforcement, in terms of search and rescue and give them experiential learning out in the field.”

Students must be full-time sophomores or juniors to apply. Much like ROTC, students accepted into the program are on track to become fully commissioned officers upon graduation. They also receive up to two years’ full tuition. Unlike ROTC, CSPI students are active-duty enlisted members of the Coast Guard and receive full salary and benefits.

Lt. Junior Grade Collin McClelland graduated from the CSPI program at Norfolk State University more than a year ago and is now assigned to Juneau. McClelland comes from five generations of military service, so being involved in a tight-knit community was a major factor in his decision to join.

“Being a part of the Coast Guard in an area like this is something to be proud of and something that definitely makes you go home, go to sleep at night and you feel like you did something,” McClelland said.

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield signed the agreement with McAllister, and said the campus has plans to create a scholarship for freshmen and sophomore students who plan to enroll in CSPI.

“Juneau has a great marine industry, and the more we can educate young people about all aspects of the maritime industry here, whether it’s joining the Coast Guard or getting involved with the fishing industry or marine repair,” Caulfield said. “It gives students an idea of how they can make a living in this beautiful setting that we’re in and how important maritime industry is to our economy here in Juneau.”

Applications for the first CSPI class at UAS will be due in January.

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